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Oil cooler for a zetec Caterham?


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After trying many solutions to my persistently moderately low pressure at track days (40-50psi), I have decided to try adding an oil cooler. Even my former X-flow came with one. What system are people using, if any? Caterham has one available for Duratec engines, but not Zetecs. Thoughts, suggestions?

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I don't have experience with running one on a Seven, but I am a fan of Setrab coolers. I used to run a big 25-row one on my previous track car and it did the trick (as well as adding 1.5qt of oil capacity to my engine, between the cooler and the lines running to it!). I ran it with an oil filter relocation plate that spun on where the filter normally goes (with a remote location for the filter). Back then I mounted the cooler in front of my radiator because there was plenty of room on that car, but the existence of these 2-in-1 radiators from Caterham and also from Radtec ( http://radtec.co.uk/products/595/Caterham-R500-radiator-and-oil-cooler-.htm ) are intriguing...

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Mine is in front of the radiator. I use a thermostat type of feed for it from the oil filter. The oil warms up about as quickly as the coolant. It seems to keep the temperatures under control even at track days in the nineties. I can check on the cooler size and see if it has markings, but it looks like this in the car:

 

http://www.usa7s.net/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=14686&stc=1

Oil cooler.jpg

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Tell us what the operating conditions are. What is the ambient temperature? What oil temps are you getting?

 

I've been running a Caterham with a Zetec and cooler (from Caterham) for 20 years. I almost always run a cover over the cooler in order to get higher oil temps. I target 200F as a minimum and like to see it more around 220F if possible. I live in the Pacific Northwest so it tends to be cool.

 

I find your oil pressures to be rather low as well. How many miles on the Zetec? Unless it's really hot where you live, maybe other causes should be considered.

 

John

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Tell us what the operating conditions are. What is the ambient temperature? What oil temps are you getting?

 

I've been running a Caterham with a Zetec and cooler (from Caterham) for 20 years. I almost always run a cover over the cooler in order to get higher oil temps. I target 200F as a minimum and like to see it more around 220F if possible. I live in the Pacific Northwest so it tends to be cool.

 

I find your oil pressures to be rather low as well. How many miles on the Zetec? Unless it's really hot where you live, maybe other causes should be considered.

 

John

 

 

Edit: I realized I might have had a long week and completely mixed up coolant/oil temps. At this time I do not know what my oil temp is but the reference is, Zetec likes to run hot.

Edited by Vovchandr
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Thx guys. My last event was chilly all day, never got above 50 degrees. I dont have an oil temperature gauge, just an oil pressure gauge(which I have replaced 2x). I can add an oil temp gauge though, that probably makes sense. What brand/model do you have?

 

I dont know how many miles on the engine but since it competed (successfully) in events like the 25 hours of Thunderhill before I bought it, I will assume it is well used. I had the head, valves, etc., rebuilt 2 years ago.

 

I know, as you suggest, low oil pressure can be the sign of more ominous issues-like a dying engine (oil pump is shot which often suggests other components are as well). And getting to the oil pump is not easy. So my search has been for superficial solutions first, in the hope of staving off an expensive rebuild or replacement. I have run 5-50, 10-60 and most recently, 20-50 weight fully synthetic oils the last three track days. It had the "highest" oil pressures with 20-50 weight oil, but by 5 lbs psi at most.

Edited by Kitcat
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I have a high quality SPA temp/pressure combom gauge. More on this in second posting. Cold (15C ambient), I run 90psi pressures up at 3500rpm and mid-80s at 3000rpm. After full warm up, the pressures peaks in the 70s psi. I run Mobil 1 5w30, the recommended weight for Zetecs. You should investigate if your readings are accurate and, if so, investigate the cause.

 

As for the Caterham oil pressure sensor I used for several years (2000-2005), it failed about once per year so I went thru at least 3 as I recall. I learned (from internet, so who knows) these did not like vibration so I mounted it remote using a brass T adapter commonly used in braking systems and a -3 braided brake line. The line runs from the oil port next to the oil filter forward to the frame remote mount next to the right front suspension mounting area.

 

Here are some pics but note that these have a SPA sensor which I will talk about in my next post.

http://www.usa7s.net/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=14705&stc=1http://www.usa7s.net/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=14706&stc=1http://www.usa7s.net/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=14707&stc=1

adapter.jpg

remote mount.jpg

block port.jpg

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Ok, so now more about the SPA gauge.

It's a nice but expensive dual gauge (temp/pressure) complete with sensors. I've have had it more than 10 years without any issues. It's "programmable" in that it allows use of metric or standard units and low/high thresholds for pressure and temp. Best of all, it saves room on the dash. :-)

 

Here are some pics.

http://www.usa7s.net/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=14708&stc=1http://www.usa7s.net/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=14709&stc=1http://www.usa7s.net/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=14710&stc=1

SPA box1.jpg

SPA box2.jpg

SPA gauge.jpg

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Thx John! I have ordered the dual gauge. I am using the oil pressure gauge I borrowed from my mechanic, so I had to buy a new one anyhow. As you say, not cheap ($300.00) but it's a 2fir and fits in the existing hole.

 

Maybe lots of worrying over nothing. My Miata ran 35-45 pressures for 12 years of track days with no adverse effects. Or, I will soon need a new engine rebuild....

 

I Googled and found nothing to confirm Zetecs like high oil temperatures. So dunno.We'll see what my temps actually are once this get installed. Since track day season is over, I likely wont be back on track for 4-5 months, so it will be while before I know anything. I also snapped off a half shaft at my most recent track day so am waiting for that replacement to arrive to become mobile again (Currently have 3 wheels and a jack). That's sidelined the car for now.

Edited by Kitcat
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I don't know that they want higher oil temperatures than anything else. With the oil cooler, I did find my oil temperatures weren't getting high enough to drive out the moisture on the cooler spring and fall drives. So, that's why I put in a thermostat. It also helps the oil warm up more quickly so I can play harder with it sooner.

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As far as running hot this is the post I've been referencing. Not sure of it's validity

 

http://www.zetecinside.com/xr2/zetectune.shtml?fbclid=IwAR0CEllGTWp4pxdvzcjat0vQKc_r61oGy7nyIgxNXD28sxrKeUekNhRFwfQ

 

"The Zetec needs to run oil temperatures of above 100°C which is why it only has a 3.8litre sump capacity. If the oil temperature falls below this engine wear increases rapidly"

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I ordered my SPA oil temp/pressure gauge from King Motorsports in Wisconsin (use the Google).

 

As to optimal oil temp being 213, that doesn't seem peculiar to Zetecs. As far as my very limited research shows, every engine works best if oil is a bit above 212 F since that is the boiling point of water. Hence any water that has adhered/accumulated in the oil system is then burned off. Ditto other realted oil pollutants. I will count on folks with actual knowledge to correct me here if warranted:).

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Further thoughts: my Caterham's water temps run anywhere from 1/2 way to 3/4's up the gauge. If my oil were super hot, one would think the water would be too. Also, I have a 2 quart Accusump. That means I have a spare 2 quarts of oil sitting in a tank cooling off for 1/2-3/4's of every track lap. It is mounted high on the bulkhead on the passenger side where the seat back would be (if I had a passenger seat). So its in the cool airflow. It comprises 33% of the engine's total oil capacity (roughly 4 qt +2 system) and is cooling much of the time, then getting injected into the hotter engine oil in corners, then back out. All of which suggests that the oil pressure drop is not due to heat. We shall see what the new gauges say.

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I am confused, unless you oil is getting so hot it's viscosity is going close to zero, I have no idea why an oil cooler will help your problem. You might show a little increase in oil pressure, but that will be from the extra effort to push the oil thru the cooler. Your water temp is good and you have tried different oils so I doubt it a heat/viscosity problem. Sounds like a oil pump or worn engine issue. I would change the oil pump and run super high quality oil with a lot of Zinc and thrash the thing to death.

 

Just my opinion

 

Graham

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Both are good ideas. I am toying with having the bottom rebuilt, so swapping in a new oil pump is definitely a simpler way to go.

 

Randall: Where did you get your oil pump and was it for a Zetec SVT? Parts for it seem can be hard to source.

 

Blaine, I only put 30-40 miles on my last oil change (using your special oil formulation) before the wheel (literally) fell off. Is that enough mileage for an oil analysis?

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